Bryce Avary of rock solo-project The Rocket Summer is a spiritual songwriter who owes his success to the martial arts. As a kid, he took up karate and earned a black belt by fourteen. The lessons he learned in the dojo would be the centerpiece to his illustrious music career. Avary, an MMA enthusiast, is hitting the road this summer as part of the 2010 Warped Tour and is even thinking about doing a little karate demonstration.
FIGHT! Magazine: When did you start studying karate?
Bryce Avary: I was a kid when I started and I always wanted to get into martial arts. It pretty much consumed my life until music really took over and I was touring all the time. I got into it just because I thought it was awesome [and] I guess I just wanted to break bricks one day or something (laughs). But as I really started going with it, I really excelled and it was weird. It was one of the few things I excelled at, as far as athletic things go. I was on competition teams and would go to tournaments all the time and fight.
FIGHT!: How has karate helped you later on in life, if it has?
BA: It really taught me about self-discipline and just showed me how to work, and set me up to start making records. I actually play every instrument on my albums and I started doing that when I was in high school, so I guess I think if I didn’t have that intense training, I don’t know if I could really do well what I do now.
FIGHT!: There are a lot of artists like Zoltan Bathory from Five Finger Death Punch and Dez Fafara from DevilDriver who bring a couple of mats with them on the road, create a makeshift dojo and practice when they get time.
BA: That’s awesome. I would like to get back to that. That would be really cool because I just got my black belt in American karate and it’s Korean-based.
FIGHT!: Do you follow mixed martial arts?
BA: Yeah, I used to be really into it. I haven’t had a TV in kinda a while (laughs) so I haven’t really followed it [as much], but I was really into it when I was younger. I used to watch Royce Gracie all the time and Ken Shamrock. That was really kind of an influence on me and I like to watch it. I just kinda haven’t had a TV in a while. We’re gonna get a bus with a TV, so hopefully we’ll be able to watch some soon.
FIGHT!: You said you look up to Royce and Ken. Is it because they’re tough, yet not the biggest dudes in the fight, like yourself?
BA: Well what’s so funny is when I would watch Royce Gracie, sometimes it would get kinda boring as just to a bystander wanting to see a fight. But as you get older, you really appreciate what he was doing because he was so good at grappling. Slow and steady wins the race, which I guess when I get older, it seems to be the story of my life.
FIGHT!: How so?
BA: You could say I’ve been doing this (music) for kind of a while, but it still seems like it’s moving up, in a good way. But every day is a fight, for sure. I’m so fortunate I get to do this, and I think about it all the time.
FIGHT!: Right. You’re playing the Warped Tour this summer and there’s lot of organizations on the festival. Could an MMA promotion benefit from having a tent with information, or even showcasing live fights?
BA: I don’t know. It’s really a melting pot of all things now and a lot of different causes, which is really cool. That’s become so popular in music. I think MMA could maybe be there. The thing about martial arts I think a lot of people don’t understand is the self-discipline part and there’s a lot of meatheads who just wanna fight and stuff, and don’t know much about it. I don’t know … loud music, alcohol and MMA, I don’t know (laughs). It might be great, it might not work, I don’t know. But we’ll see.
FIGHT!: Is there any chance you’ll do a karate demonstration on this year’s Warped Tour?
BA: Oh gosh. I’d have to stretch for kind of a while (laughs). I’d have to do some serious stretching. It’s just funny because it’s like I have to stretch … not like stretch right beforehand, but start stretching right now (laughs). I don’t know. We’ll see.